The firm working to build a mine in southeast Nebraska to extract a rare heat-resistant element says the project won't need a costly rail line.

NioCorp Developments said Tuesday it dropped a roughly $21 million rail line from the proposed niobium mine near Elk Creek because it developed ways to recycle many of the mine's byproducts.

The elimination of the 4.3-mile-long rail spur should simplify the project's environmental review because it will no longer have to build bridges across several waterways.

The company plans to release a revised cost estimate for the project when it completes its feasibility study before seeking investors to finance the project.

The U.S. currently imports nearly all the niobium that's used in this country to harden steel and make it more heat-resistant for industrial uses.

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